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Mmmm, homemade bacon, homemade salami, and homemade prosciutto. These are just a few of the recipes that jumped out at me when I first glanced through the book, The River Cottage Curing and Smoking Handbook. If you’re a meat eater like me, this book is drool worthy!
For a number of years I’ve been wanting to learn how to cure and smoke meats. We’re an avid hunting family and the majority of the meat we eat throughout the year is wild harvested game. We butcher our own game meat, meaning we cut, clean and package everything for the freezer. Later when we have time we can do more creative things like make homemade sausage and bratwurst. Several years ago I bought two smokers at a yard sale, one was electric and one wood fired. We had big plans to learn how to use them and start smoking our wild harvested meat. Then we moved to our new homestead and other projects took precedence.
This last year, I had the opportunity to get a copy of The River Cottage Curing and Smoking Handbook by Steven Lamb to read, review and share here on the blog. I was ecstatic! I immediately began reading and my fascination with curing and smoking foods has grown. This book isn’t just a list of recipes. It is more of an in-depth “how to” book with recipes included. There’s even a chapter dedicated to equipment that explains the various types of equipment you can use in curing and smoking meats.
I enjoyed reading the “Ingredients” chapter where the author included a diagram of several different animals and drew the location of specific cuts of meat. This chapter also includes charts that list out which cut of meat makes which product (i.e. pork belly is made into bacon), the technique of curing or smoking used and the page number in the book for the corresponding recipe. I was quite impressed that there were multiple pages of full color, step by step photographs with text explaining how to bone out specific cuts of meat with pork being the most explained. This will be quite handy for us one of these years when we hope to raise our own pork! This year we bought 1/2 a pig from a friend’s farm to add a little variety to all the wild game we eat so I plan to use some of that pork and try out some of these recipes.
The section on Methods is helpful since it details a variety of methods such as dry curing, wet curing, fermenting, and smoking. It even provides some basics on how to build a hot or cold smoker. This book isn’t just dedicated to curing and smoking meats, although the majority of the pictures in the book are of meat products so this might be a bit deceiving! There are recipes for smoking cheese and fermenting vegetables too.
Each recipe has a picture included to highlight the foods being discussed. The recipes range from dry cured bacon to venison biltong, hot smoked pork tenderloin, cedar smoked duck breasts, pastrami, oak smoked cheddar, smoked new potato salad, and many more. I can’t wait to start trying out some of these recipes!
Do you cure and smoke foods? What are your favorite resources and recipes?
Thank you to Blogging for Books for providing a copy of this great book in exchange for my review.